Mornhinweg: Sanchez has ‘leg up’ on Jets QB competition
There will be competition for the Jets starting quarterback spot, even if the much-maligned incumbent starter Mark Sanchez seems to have the inside track.
Speaking to the media for the first time since their mid-January hiring, the Jets made their three new coordinators available to the media on Monday via a conference call. But it was offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg who stole the show. The former Eagles coordinator now inherits an offense devoid of playmakers at receiver, has no true No. 1 running back and might be losing two starters on the offensive line.
And arguably the worst starter in the league returns under center.
“Certainly, you like to have competition at every position, including the quarterback spot,” Mornhinweg said. “Mark will probably have just a little bit of a leg up, it would appear. But I’d like to have competition at that position as well as all the positions.”
Figuring out Sanchez’s strengths is going to be a severe challenge.
“Offensively, I’ll play to a player’s strength. Mark has many strengths, everybody has strengths and weaknesses. Just talking in general about a player, try to play to a player’s strength and trying to get the weaknesses a little better,” Mornhinweg said. “Certainly put him in a position where his strengths will show. I do that in all positions but certainly the quarterback spot.”
It was once thought that Sanchez would develop into a star player in the NFL, especially after leading the Jets to consecutive AFC Championship games in his first two seasons in the league. But last year, the Jets finished 6-10 due in large part to their quarterback’s play.
Sanchez’s 18 interceptions and just 13 touchdowns certainly brings to question what his future in New York might look like, despite being the No. 5 selection in the 2009 NFL Draft.
“I’m not sure that that’s a term that he needs to be ‘fixed.’ Mark’s got a lot of strengths, he’s played at a high level and it’s our job to get him to play at a high level on a consistent basis,” Mornhinweg said. “Certainly competition at all spots and certainly at that spot. Competition makes everyone better.”
» Mornhinweg and the little-used Tim Tebow have spoken since his hiring.
“I’ve talked to Tim and he’s part of this football team. I’m excited to coach all of our players, including Tim. We had a long discussion and some thoughts there. I would like to keep those conversations between a player and coach sort of private. We certainly had a discussion,” Mornhinweg said. “He got my thoughts on the situation and he has some thoughts as well. If he’s on this football team, which he is right now, then I would do it a certain way and try to utilize all of our players that can help us win a football game.”
» Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman was also on the call and said he is uncertain if he will be calling the defense or if that will remain the job of head coach Rex Ryan.
“It doesn’t really matter to me who calls it. If Rex wants to call it, that’s fine. I will have my input, whose got the call isn’t important. It is how we execute the call out on the field — those things are important to me. If that’s what Rex wants, that’s what it’s going to be,” Thurman said.
Previously, Thurman had served as the Jets secondary coach and is seen as a “player’s coach.” He has never before served as a defensive coordinator.
» Currently, the Jets’ 3-4 scheme has only one returning starter at linebacker and Thurman isn’t sure if the numbers will necessitate a switch to the 4-3. He said the decision “will always be personnel based.” The only returning starter at linebacker right now for the Jets is David Harris.
“In terms of where we’re at right now, we can’t really answer that. We have to go through the free agency period; we have to go through the draft,” Thurman said. “We’ll let our personnel dictate.”
» Thurman also didn’t know much about the status of Darrelle Revis, the star cornerback who is at the center of trade talks. “I don’t really have a comment. I think our GM, our head coach, people above me are going to make that decision,” Thurman said.
» Special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica replaces the legendary coach Mike Westhoff this year but still plans on staying in communication with the man who was at one point his boss and mentor. Whether free agent kicker Nick Folk returns to the Jets, remains to be seen.
“Nick’s done a lot of great things for us,” Kotwica said. “I don’t know how things are going to shake out in the future.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for all your offseason news.